Six Ways to Empower Employees to Take Initiative

 -  3/6/12

The “it’s not my job” attitude is more than just an employee career killer; it’s a symptom of a much larger organizational problem. Workers who simply do their jobs and nothing more do not contribute to company growth.

If they don’t take the initiative by seeking out new projects and looking for opportunities to share their ideas and suggestions, an organization can become ensnared in old ways of doing things.

But if workplace culture doesn’t encourage employees to be proactive, they likely will not have the courage to take the initiative. A proactive culture rewards employees for taking action without being asked. Employees are expected to take initiative and lead regardless of whether they are in a formal position of authority. Talent managers can foster this environment by sharing employee stories that provide tangible examples of proactive behavior.

When this proactive culture is missing, employees’ ideas and actions are often met with criticism or dismissal, and they may stop trying to come up with new and better ways to do things. They become disengaged, resolving to do only what is necessary to get by. The company will eventually lose ground to competitors that encourage and reward initiative because their employees will find ways to improve processes, cut costs and introduce innovative new products and services.

Here are six ways managers can create an environment where initiative is encouraged and appreciated by empowering employees and rewarding them for their efforts.

1. Tell employees what they want and why. Managers should tell their employees why it’s important for them to take initiative, and explain how being proactive will be good for the company and for them. When employees take initiative, the benefits can include improved customer satisfaction, cost savings, new product ideas and problem solving.

2. Be a role model. Leaders must demonstrate the calculated risk-taking behavior they want their teams to emulate and hold their fellow managers accountable. The best leaders don’t just give orders, they inspire.

3. Authorize teams to make decisions. Good managers give employees the authority to take the initiative on certain things without prior approval. For example, employees at the Ritz-Carlton know they can spend up to $2,000 to ensure a guest is satisfied.

Article Keywords:   energy   HR   employee engagement   development  

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